IAHSS: Do Your Part to Prevent Hospital Gun Violence

Incorporating Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) concepts into new construction and renovation, developing relationships with local first responders as well as training security and clinical staff are just some of the ways firearm attacks can be thwarted.

Most hospital shootings involve gunmen who are determined and have specific targets, which makes gun violence at healthcare facilities very difficult to prevent, according to research released Sept. 20 from Johns Hopkins. Of the 154 hospital-related shootings that occurred in the United States from 2000 through 2011, the motives for the attacks were a grudge or revenge (27%), suicide (21%) or ending the life of an ill hospitalized relative (14%). Escape attempts by patients in police custody accounted for 11% of the shooting incidents.

Despite these findings, hospitals should not give up on trying to prevent gun violence on their campuses, claims Bryan Warren, who is the president of the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety and senior manager of Carolinas HealthCare System’s corporate security. Incorporating Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) concepts in new construction and renovation, developing relationships with local first responders as well as training security and clinical staff are just some of the ways he says firearm attacks can be thwarted.

“There is a lot more to preventing hospital shootings than just metal detectors and arming your security personnel,” Warren claims.

Patient Screening Lets Staff Know About Threats

Some attacks where the motive is a grudge or revenge, for example, can be prevented with appropriate screening. Emergency department staff should ask victims of domestic violence if their attackers know that they came to the hospital and might follow them to campus.

“Then the hospital could prepare for the person coming,” says Warren. “Those preparations might include restricted access or letting security staff be on the lookout for the person. If that is not a part of the screening process, you would never know to [take those precautions], and that could result in a tragic situation.”

Plans for committing forced euthanasia or “mercy killings” by family members might also be detected by hospital staff.

“Staff education plays a vital role,” he adds. “If you have a nursing assistant who overheard a significant other say, “I’m going to end it all or I can’t stand this anymore,’ [the assistant] should know that anything of this nature should be taken seriously, and they should report that to the proper authorities. If there isn’t education there so staff know what to listen for and how to react, then you are already at a disadvantage.”

If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

About the Author

robin hattersley headshot

Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century

This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!

Get Our Newsletters
Campus Safety Conference promo